German Auto Industry's Progress Threatened by Lack of Engineers

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Despite the global economic crisis, German automakers are reporting record profits and sales in the first half of 2011. Therefore, if they can prosper under such dire conditions, then the future looks more than bright, correct?

Well, while true, the German auto industry is actually facing one little tiny problem that seems to be slowing their expansion plans: a shortage of engineers to design the new cars they intend to produce. The reasons for this shortage are the aging, thus slowly but steadily retiring, workforce and the loss of interest in technical studies by the young.

According to the German engineering association VDI, the shortage of available engineers in the country last month hit an all-time high of nearly 77,000 jobs. And this might prove to be a problem for companies like BMW, which aims to hire 800 people at its Leipzig as part of the €400 million ($577 million) expansion of the plant for the production of the recently launched i3 and i8 models.

Also in Leipzig, Porsche plans to add the new, mid-size Cajun SUV to its local production line, and intends to hire at least 1,000 extra workers.

The city's Mayor, Burkhard Jung, remarked that “until about two years ago we had hardly heard of companies in the region struggling to find skille staff. But the scarcity of engineers has become an issue now.”

It may sound far-fetched, but despite their increased profits BMW, VW, Daimler and Porsche may face problems in expanding their line-ups, especially with hybrid and electric models, due to the lack of engineers.

Well, if you can’t find the appropriate workforce in your own country, maybe you should look abroad. And that’s exactly what Germany's carmakers are currently doing to solve this progress-threatening situation: they are hiring people from growing markets like India and China.

Porsche’s personnel chief, Thomas Edig, said that “we also want to recruit employees from China and India because we need their knowhow and understanding of their home markets.”

The carmakers also form partnerships with universities to ensure that they have access to recruit new staff right from the source.

The situation has driven prices, or in this case wages, up: since 2005, the average auto engineer’s salary in Germany has increased by 7.6% according to data from VDI, to €48,725 ($70,500), and by an impressive 19% for managers, to a not-too-shabby €84,200 ($122,000) –and that’s without holiday and Christmas bonuses.

So if you have an engineer’s degree, you might as well send a resume to one of the aforementioned automakers. Not only will you earn a nice salary, but you’ll probably get a nice company car, too…

Story sources: Bloomberg